Block De­wani’s SA extradition, court urged

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

LEAD­ING judges are be­ing asked to block hon­ey­moon mur­der sus­pect Shrien De­wani’s extradition to South Africa un­til he is fit to stand trial, the Bri­tish Press As­so­ci­a­tion re­ported yes­ter­day.

De­wani is fight­ing re­moval to face trial over his wife Anni’s death un­til he has re­cov­ered from men­tal health prob­lems.

Mem­bers of Anni’s fam­ily were present for the hear­ing in Lon­don be­fore the Lord Chief Jus­tice Lord Thomas, Mr Jus­tice Ouse­ley and Mr Jus­tice Blake.

The hear­ing fol­lowed a de­ci­sion by the High Court in Oc­to­ber that there were out­stand­ing le­gal is­sues to be de­cided.

De­wani’s lawyers have stressed that he will be will­ing to de­fend him­self at trial, once he is fit to do so.

Yes­ter­day, pro­ceed­ings at the High Court cen­tred on two is­sues – De­wani’s sta­tus as “an ac­cused per­son”; and whether it would be “un­just and op­pres­sive” to ex­tra­dite him, “re­gard­less of the prog­no­sis” of his men­tal con­di­tion.

Lord Thomas said that if De­wani’s le­gal team won on the first is­sue, then De­wani “has to be dis­charged”. But he “could be re-ar­rested sub­ject to him re­main­ing in this coun­try when he be­comes fit”.

In dis­cus­sion with Clare Mont­gomery QC, for De­wani, he said that if suc­cess­ful on the sec­ond is­sue, then “you have another ad­journ­ment, he re­mains where he is un­til bet­ter, and then goes”.

His lawyers have said he is un­fit to plead un­der English law.

He is com­pul­so­rily de­tained in hos­pi­tal un­der the Men­tal Health Act 1983, with his next an­nual re­view set for May.

The first ground of ap­peal be­ing ad­dressed by the court asks whether a per­son who is un­fit to plead is “an ac­cused” for the pur­pose of the Extradition Act 2003, “if he is be­ing ex­tra­dited in cir­cum­stances where he may re­main un­fit to plead”.

The sec­ond ques­tion be­ing tack­led by the judges is whether it is “un­just or op­pres­sive to ex­tra­dite a per­son who is agreed at the time of the de­ter­mi­na­tion to be un­fit, what­ever the prog­no­sis”.

In July, Chief Mag­is­trate Howard Rid­dle ruled at West­min­ster Mag­is­trate’s Court that De­wani should be ex­tra­dited, and re­jected his at­tempt to stay in the UK for fur­ther hos­pi­tal treat­ment.

He said De­wani, from Bris­tol, was not fit to plead or stand trial at present, but that there was ev­i­dence he would re­ceive the care he needed in South Africa.

Rid­dle orig­i­nally gave the go-ahead to De­wani’s extradition in 2011, but had to re­con- sider the po­si­tion af­ter the High Court al­lowed his ap­peal in March last year.

De­wani is ac­cused of or­der­ing the killing of his new wife Anni, 28, who was shot as the cou­ple trav­elled in a taxi in Gugulethu in Novem­ber 2010.

So far, three men have been con­victed of her death.

Last year Xo­lile Mn­geni was con­victed of pre­med­i­tated mur­der for shoot­ing her.

Pros­e­cu­tors claimed he was a hit­man hired by De­wani to kill Anni, which De­wani has con­sis­tently de­nied.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo was jailed for 18 years af­ter he ad­mit­ted his part in the killing, and another ac­com­plice, Mzi­wa­madoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to mur­der and re­ceived a 25-year prison sen­tence.

De­wani’s fam­ily have said that the ac­cused re­mains com­mit­ted to re­turn­ing to South Africa “when his health would per­mit a full trial, and when ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tions are in place for his health and safety”. – Sapa

‘UN­FIT’: Shrien De­wani

MUR­DERED: Anni De­wani

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